Racism exists on both sides of the political divide, the Conservatives’ candidate for London mayor has said, claiming that left-wingers have called him a “coconut, a bounty, an Uncle Tom”.
Shaun Bailey, who will be on the ballot against the Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan in the capital next year, also vowed to launch a class inequality audit if elected and establish mentoring programmes for deprived communities.
Appearing at the Centre for Social Justice, the Tory candidate used a speech to detail the abuse he has received, saying: “There’s still a sense that no matter how well you do, your race makes you a target.
“Speaking just for myself, I’ve experienced this. People on one side of the political divide have sent me threatening letters, telling me to ‘go home n*****’.
“But it’s not just the far right. People on the other side have called me a coconut, a bounty, an Uncle Tom. Not to mention the former Labour MP for my home borough who called me a token ghetto boy.”
He added: “Let me tell you: when you’ve grown up surrounded by crime, you don’t feel like there’s anything token about it. So racial prejudice clearly exists in our society, on the left and right.”
Mr Bailey, who was introduced by Priti Patel, the home secretary, also spoke of the racism directed it at him as he grew up in London’s Ladbroke Grove. “I’ve been told to home while standing in my home town,” he said. “I’ve been chased by the National Front, a group that I might’ve liked a little more social distance from.”
He later said: “Racial prejudice still exists in Britain. Yes, boys who look like me are no longer chased by the National Front. But that doesn’t mean racism is a thing of the past, we only have to look at the stats.
“In London, black young men are half as likely to be employed as young white men. If you’re the CEO of a FTSE 100 company, you’re more likely to be called Steve than you are to be black.”
In a sign of how bitter the battle in the capital may become in spring 2021,Mr Bailey also launched a personal attack on his rival, suggesting Mr Khan had “forgotten his roots and betrayed our communities”,.
“Right now, it feels like our mayor would rather dodge responsibility than tackle the difficult and deep-rooted causes of poverty and inequality,” he claimed.
A spokesperson for Mr Khan said: “Shaun Bailey simply has the wrong values for London and once again put his political party ahead of our city today by standing next to the home secretary and refusing to urge her to properly fund London’s police.”